|Chronological and political information|
I guess that's what I should expect from a creature that eats dung and dirt.
Pepan Manja was a diagnosed mentally-unstable Kubaz male culinary arts student living on the planet Coruscant. His cultural practices and insectivore diet drove him to view insectoid citizens solely as a food source. Pepan attempted to resist his ingrained urges in order to better interact with society, focusing on his schooling and eventually entering the regional Durasteel Chef competition. His entry was met with a negative review by Nik'tak, a Riileb food critic, and Pepan held a grudge. His view of insectoid sentients gradually began to distort further, and he satisfied his inborn urges and cravings within the local vagrant population. The disappearances of his first victims went largely unnoticed by the authorities as they were homeless, living out of the public eye in the Coruscant Underworld.
After his expulsion from school due to an incident with a Geonosian classmate, Pepan was publicly ridiculed by Nik'tak. The Kubaz's violence escalated and he turned his anger toward the public, starting with the murder of the Riileb food critic. After the deaths of a Vratix engineer and Gand stockbroker, Pepan was tracked down and apprehended by the Gand findsman Zuckuss. The Kubaz's residence was searched, where the remains of several other victims were found. Pepan was charged with nine counts of homicide, deemed criminally insane, and was incarcerated in the Bedacus-Lambrecht Correctional Facility where he spent his days obsessing over revenge for being captured by an insect.
Pepan Manja was a Kubaz male, an insectivore species from the Outer Rim Territories. Cultural practices ingrained in his brain dictated his views of any and all insectoid species solely as a food source—whether they were sentient or otherwise. As a child, Pepan grew up within a poor hive with little available food. He considered his parents to be terrible cooks and he strove to learn how to better prepare a meal, so that he could stave off the frequent bouts of food poisoning. He became obsessed with cooking and food as due to his family's socio-economic standing, he was often malnourished. Considered by his hive to be a prodigy in the culinary arts, Pepan left his homeworld of Kubindi to pursue an education on Coruscant at what was ranked by critics as one of the galaxy’s finest cooking schools. He became close to his roommate Darellius Bucher, heir to the family-owned meat market franchise Bucher's Quality Meats. To pay for his education, Pepan accepted a job at Bucher's shop, processing game and livestock.
Pepan was considered by his classmates and instructors to be socially awkward. He was seen as quiet and withdrawn, avoiding unnecessary interaction with anyone aside from Bucher. He often shied away from insectoid classmates, trying to overcome the inborn temptations to devour them. The urges filled Pepan. He attempted to quell them by focusing on his schooling, devising new recipes and preparation techniques. He was proud of his skill, and his classmates considered him to be a master and encouraged him to enter into a regional competition. In 23 ABY, Pepan signed up for the local Durasteel Chef competition and concentrated on preparing what he considered to be a fine presentation.
Pepan received satisfactory reviews from all but one judge, a Riileb food critic named Nik'tak, who claimed the dish was a slimy brine and the meat was rubbery boot leather. The loss of the competition stung, but the Riileb's review hurt Pepan even more and he held a grudge. He deemed that Nik'tak lacked taste and culture, stating that only a creature that eats dung and dirt would find fault with his cooking. The only way Nik'tak would have good taste, Pepan surmised, would be if the Riileb were to be served in a stew.
The defeat and criticism from the Durasteel Chef competition stayed with Pepan. He became more withdrawn, moving out of the dorm and into a small apartment in a less-affluent neighborhood. He continued his education, though he no longer worked at Bucher's Quality Meats, instead taking a custodial job with a waste-management company to pay rent and student loans. Cooking was Pepan's release; he focused all his energy toward creating the perfect dish.
Left alone with his growing anger and resentment toward the Riileb food critic, Pepan's view of other insectoid species gradually became more distorted. He began to see them as game animals to be hunted. Pepan acted on his ingrained urges and retreated to the Coruscant Underworld, killing vagrant insectoids. The local population of homeless began to thin out, starting with a Verpine beggar. The Verpine used to be a common sight on the street corner, often holding a grubby sign and asking for food. The beggar's disappearance largely went unnoticed, many assumed that it was either taken to a shelter or relocated to another part of Coruscant.
Pepan occasionally used Bucher's shop to process the remains of his victims. To avoid suspicion, he worked after-hours and claimed to require the equipment for school projects and cooking competitions. His instructors and classmates did not notice anything amiss and continued to laud him as a master chef. Local dining establishments sent scouts to recruit Pepan, promising job security and a comfortable financial future. Pepan signed a contract with the regional branch of Calliandro's, a franchise restaurant known for its Kubaz cuisine. Pepan's career was secured for him when he graduated.
His future decided, Pepan looked forward to his graduation. He felt that his final project would have been no trouble for him, until he was assigned to work with a Geonosian classmate. Pepan requested a different partner, afraid he would be unable to resist his culturally-ingrained desire to devour his classmate, but was denied. The final project progressed, Pepan keeping mostly to himself until his partner slipped while chopping vegetables, cutting off the Geonosian's finger. Pepan was overcome with his urges and took the digit, grinding it up and using it as a seasoning. He was proud of his innovation, and when his instructor sampled the dish, he announced his secret ingredient. The instructor was appalled, classmates disgusted, and Pepan was expelled for endangering the health of students and staff.
I relish the day when my tongue will scrape the flesh from that bug's carapace...
—Pepan Manja in regards to his capture by the Gand findsman Zuckuss
Pepan was devastated, his future shattered. He turned his anger toward the public. The disappearance of homeless insectoids and drifters continued unabated. The local news reported his expulsion due to the circumstances surrounding it and the Riileb food critic Nik'tak commented that Calliandro's customers were spared from finding out what true "finger food" was. The comment was the final insult to Pepan's integrity and he snapped.
A week after making the televised comment, Nik'tak disappeared. A few days later, an employee found the remains of the critic's processed carcass floating in a stew pot at Calliandro's. Several weeks passed and a Vratix engineer vanished soon after visiting Bucher's Quality Meats, making Darellius Bucher a prime suspect. Bucher claimed innocence, saying that he had nothing to do with the killings. His alibi was seen as flimsy and he was placed into custody. Authorities thought that they had their killer, until the disappearance of a Gand stockbroker three weeks after the arrest. This time, however, the abduction was caught by a security holocam, the perpetrator identified as Pepan. A bounty was promptly posted.
Pepan eluded capture for a time, hiding in the undercity. In 24 ABY, he was eventually tracked down by the Gand findsman Zuckuss, who caught Pepan in the midst of another murder. Pepan was apprehended and his apartment raided. Inside, authorities discovered what they felt looked more like a workshop, finding stolen meat market equipment and a stack of meat in the freezers. The residence had an odor they felt was the smell of flesh. Coroners determined the meat to be the processed remains of at least eight different victims, including the Vratix engineer and Gand stockbroker.
Pepan was indicted on nine charges of homicide, including the killing of Nik'tak. He was put on trial and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Bedacus-Lambrecht Correctional Facility for the criminally insane. Pepan swore revenge on Zuckuss for his capture, wanting nothing more than to scrape the flesh from that bug's carapace with his tongue.
You really are an exquisite creature. I have dined on your kind before, but you… You will be a meal fit for royalty.
—Pepan Manja to Zuckuss
A year into his sentence, Pepan was transferred to the E-7 Mental Observation Unit to begin therapy under the supervision of Doctor Gawynn Karastee. It was during a cell block raid that Pepan, much to his surprise, discovered that Zuckuss himself was also incarcerated. His obsession with the Gand became stronger, but due to his limited resources within the prison, Pepan was unable to enact the full extent of his revenge fantasy. However, those limitations did not quell his urges or stifle his grudge. Fueled by his obsession, Pepan observed the Gand for weeks in order to figure out his daily routine and devise a new course of action.
During a prison riot, Pepan could no longer resist and acted on his impulses. He attacked Zuckuss in the exercise yard, where he stabbed the Gand multiple times in the abdomen with a shiv. However, Pepan's actions had not gone unnoticed and the Kubaz was apprehended by the prison's Special Response Team. With an additional assault charge and possession of contraband added to his record, Pepan Manja was removed from the general population and placed in the Hi-Max Unit, where he would serve his sentence in a 23-hour lockdown.
Personality and traitsEdit
Pepan Manja was an experienced chef and due to his upbringing, he was obsessed with food and proper meal preparation. Considered by his colleagues to be withdrawn and socially inept, he kept mostly to himself, refusing to associate with anyone other than Darellius Bucher. Pepan was proud of his culinary expertise and criticism was something he did not handle well and he tended to harbor a grudge.
Pepan's cultural practices caused him to view insectoid species as a potential meal, which made it difficult for him to interact with certain classmates and instructors. Having his cooking skill and later himself criticized by a Riileb was too much for Pepan to handle. His unstable mental health and disregard for insectoid sentience made it easy for him to progress to hunting and killing others as if they were merely game animals. To him, his victims were a food source. Being captured by a Gand drove Pepan further over the edge. He obsessed over getting revenge, describing to anyone who would listen exactly how he planned to kill and devour Zuckuss if given the chance.
A chef by trade, Pepan found release in cooking. While incarcerated, he was instructed to keep a journal, which he filled with recipes. The therapists found the cookbook to be disturbing, as the recipes targeted sentient species and included marinades and preparations to remove the ammonia taste from Gand flesh.
Talents and abilitiesEdit
Pepan Manja was a culinary arts student and was considered by his friends and relatives to be an accomplished chef. He enjoyed cooking and would spend his free time devising new recipes and techniques. This talent eventually found its way into Pepan's murders. He thought himself to have a preternatural sense of how to use the proper selection of herbs and spices to bring out the flavors of his victims' flesh.
Working in Bucher's Quality Meats taught Pepan how to cut, prepare, and store meat for future use. He would often use the shop during after-hours to reduce his victims to portions that were easier to transport and store. Pepan had also stolen equipment from the butcher shop and others within the district, keeping it in his apartment to further prepare his meals.
Space was at a premium for Pepan, so he was not one to allow his prey to live for very long, preferring to kill them quickly and freeze the carcass in manageable portions. Pepan was not an accomplished fighter, he knew only enough to subdue and kill, and only targeted those he was confident would not have the means to fight back. He found that Gands, due to the breath mask they wore, were easier to take down by simply suffocating them. However, because they breathed ammonia, the flesh required various marinades and spices in order to be palatable.
Behind the scenesEdit
Pepan Manja was written as an extreme take on how the Kubaz view insectoid sentient species. The author, Trak Nar, felt that such an ingrained mindset would be rife for psychosis. A fan of crime dramas such as Law & Order and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Nar drew upon stories and characters from those shows for the creation of Pepan.
For example, an episode from the ninth season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit titled "Signature" was part of the inspiration for Pepan. The serial killer the story focused around, nicknamed "the Woodsman," would torture his victims inside an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse itself was the inspiration for Pepan's workshop. An episode from the fifth season of CSI titled "Committed" revolved around the murder of an inmate within an institute for the criminally insane. The behavior of the characters were what Nar drew upon for the creation of Pepan.
Pepan's name was derived from two words, "peptic" and "mangiare." The first word, peptic, is an adjective pertaining any part of the anatomy that normally has an acidic lumen, under normal circumstances being the stomach and duodenum. His surname is derived from mangiare, Italian for "to eat." The name was intended to be indicative of Pepan's culinary background and desire to eat insectoids.